Staging Media Events

Pedestrian advocates should make it a point to regularly stage media events in order to educate the public and public officials, as well as maintaining pressure on the municipality to make needed improvements. Some examples of effective events are:

  • Crosswalk Action – A Crosswalk Action is an organized event in which a group of pedestrians repeatedly crosses a street in marked and/or unmarked crosswalks in a legal fashion, so as to communicate messages to drivers, pedestrians, media representatives and other observers. Members of the organized group carry signs with educational and advocacy messages. Crosswalk actions can involve as few as 10 or more than 40 people. See a detailed Crosswalk Action Guide courtesy of America Walks’ Seattle member group, Feet First.
  • Press Conference: “Top Ten Most Dangerous Intersections” – Local news outlets love disaster stories and numbered lists, so this one will attract plenty of attention. Choose 10 (or five) intersections you know are particularly dangerous for pedestrians and declare them as your Top Ten, even if you don’t have crash data. Suggest ways they might be made safer, such as curb extensions, longer signal “walk” phase, more visible crosswalks, better lighting and signage, prohibiting right turn on red, installing countdown timers, or reducing the number of lanes (road diet), installing a median refuge island, or replacing signals with a roundabout (reduces both congestion and speed). Notify local media that you’re holding a press conference tomorrow, and then hold it at one of the best or worst intersections in town. Helpful hint: See example news coverage in America Walks’ Toolbox for Pedestrian Advocates Chapter 6 (scroll to page 45).
  • Crosswalk Sting – See under “Enforcement”
  • Showcase your Neighborhood “Pace Car” Program – Encourage your members and friends to “set the pace” by simply driving at or below the neighborhood speed limit during peak speeding times. This forces drivers behind you to travel at your safe, courteous pace. A formal Pace Car Program is a neighborhood project in which participants sign a pledge to follow local laws and receive a Pace Car sticker for their bumper. With or without a pace car sticker, a participant’s car will be like a moving speed hump, ensuring that other drivers maintain a safe speed. Once your program is established, hold a press conference to show it off and win more converts to the cause.

Advocacy Tip:

Check out the Pace Car webpage of America Walks’ Altanta member group, PEDS (Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety.